Emma Roberts and Evan Peters Call off Engagement: Who Keeps the Engagement Ring?

According to E! Online, actors Emma Roberts and Evan Peters have called off their engagement. Roberts, niece of famed actress Julia Roberts, and Peters, from X-Men: Days of Future Past, were together for three years.

In many cultures, a marriage proposal is accompanied by a gift of an engagement ring. If the couple ultimately does not marry, it is not always clear whether the recipient of the engagement ring should give it back to the partner who bought/acquired it.

In Ontario, courts have varied in their approaches regarding the ownership of engagement rings where the proposed marriage does not ultimately take place. There is some case law that supports the view that engagement rings are "conditional gifts" and that the ring must be returned. In these conditional gift cases, the courts look at who broke off the engagement. If the gift giver (the donor) broke off the engagement, then the recipient (the donee) is entitled to keep the ring. However, if the donee called off the engagement, then she must return the ring.

Other courts have held that an engagement ring is an unconditional gift and does not have to be returned, regardless of who called off the engagement or was "to blame" for the end of the parties' engagement.

Still there are other cases that suggest that a donor may insist that the donee return the ring, but the donor must request the ring to be returned immediately after the engagement is broken off. If the donor does not ask for the ring back when the engagement is broken right away, he is prohibited from demanding it later. Delaying the request for the ring to be returned may suggest that the ring's character has changed from a conditional gift to an unconditional gift.

If Roberts and Peters resided in Ontario and disagreed as to whether Roberts should return the engagement ring to Peters, it is unclear how a court would decide their case. It depends on who broke off the engagement ring, if Peters demanded the return of the ring immediately after the engagement was broken, and whether the parties and the judge considered the ring to be conditional upon marriage or an unconditional, absolute gift. While etiquette suggests that it is polite to give back the ring, it is unclear whether the law requires it.

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